A Good Day to Die Hard
Posted February 19, 2013 by Daniel Hodgson in
What We Liked:Three minutes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead
What We Disliked:forgettable villains with boring plans; dull action scenes
A Good Day to Die Hard marks the fifth time John McClane has been at the wrong place in the at the wrong time. Come on, he’s got to be doing it on purpose.
The Story: Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) hasn’t spoken to his grown son Jack (Jai Courtney) in years. A source tells him he’s in a Moscow prison awaiting trial, and would be lucky to get a life sentence. McClane travels to Russia to see him, when the courthouse is attacked by armed forces. Jack makes his escape in the ensuing chaos, taking another prisoner, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch), along with him. McClane follows them as they flee their pursuers.
After the chase, Jacks reveals his secret; he’s a spy for the CIA, trying to protect Komarov from persecution by the Russian government. Komarov has a file that can bring down Russian Defense Minister Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov), who once knew Komarov. Father and son team up to get Komarov out of the country with the file, but Chagarin’s forces are always one step ahead.
A Good Day to Die Hard is easily the weakest entry in the franchise. First and foremost, the action is dull. Jai Courtney is a sluggish brawler, taking ages to pull off a move, delivered with little in the way of flair. Compare this with Maggie Q in the franchise’s previous entry, Live Free or Die Hard, who had a tense, memorable fight scene with Willis. The shots, especially in chase scenes, are too close and cut too quickly. An early chase scene is chaotic, confusing, with little sense of who’s where and going which way (can this style please just go away?). There isn’t enough build-up to the action scenes; there’s much action but little tension.
The villains—all four of them—scarcely register, in a franchise that’s seen a decent bad guy performance by Jeremy Irons, a quite menacing (and also quite funny) turn by Timothy Olyphant, and of course, Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. With so many villains populating A Good Day, it’s a wonder the goons in this movie aren’t confused as to who they actually work for and who they should be shooting at (as if they could hit anything). There’s nothing intriguing about the villain’s plan or its execution, again, in a series with interesting villain plots. A Good Day has the shortest running time of the franchise, yet it feels the longest for being so painfully boring, because not much actually happens. There’s some explosions, and then the movie is over.
A Good Day to Die Hard is closer to the Die Hard: with a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard than the first two films, in that it’s a buddy-action flick taking place across a large area with several locations. What’s missing though is that McClane and his son are too much alike; they’re both tough guy types. McClane can improvise, but he’s not a smart guy–and he knows it. Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Long played smart guys in their Die Hard films, and there was a fun chemistry between either actor and Willis that’s entirely missing here between Willis and Courtney.
The franchise’s wise-guy sense of humor that defines the series, especially the first film, is all but absent as well, save for a few token yucks. Humor is a coping mechanism, and McClane has gotten used to danger by now, much to the film’s detriment. Even Willis’s delivery of “Yippee Ki-Yay” sounds less the taunt it was when he first spoke it, and more like a resignation. Maybe it’s time for McClane to hang up the old white undershirt.